Cascade Write-Up: HackTheBox

3 minute read


Cascade is a well-made, straight-forward machine that is a fun enumeration exercise and requires a bit of .NET debugging. Port enumeration reveals an open LDAP service that is used to dump user objects. One user (Ryan Thompson) has a custom attribute (cascadeLegacyPwd) that reveals a Base64-encoded password which allows SMB authentication to read a shared folder (Data). Within the shared folder a VNC registry file leaks the encrypted password of another user (s.smith) which (once unecrypted) the user access to read a different SMB share (Audit$). Within the new shared folder, an insecurely written .NET application can be obtained and debugged to decrypt the password of a custom service user (ArkSvc). With the custom service user (ArkSvc), a deleted Active Directory object of a temporary admin account with the same custom attribute (cascadeLegacyPwd) can be obtained. This attribute can be decoded and is an identical (reused) password to the Administrator account.

Nmap Port Scan

nmap -sCV -p- -oN nmap/cascade-full
Starting Nmap 7.80 ( ) at 2020-03-31 19:27 EDT
Nmap scan report for
Host is up (0.023s latency).
Not shown: 65520 filtered ports
53/tcp    open  domain        Microsoft DNS 6.1.7601 (1DB15D39) (Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1)
| dns-nsid: 
|_  bind.version: Microsoft DNS 6.1.7601 (1DB15D39)
88/tcp    open  kerberos-sec  Microsoft Windows Kerberos (server time: 2020-03-31 23:32:04Z)
135/tcp   open  msrpc         Microsoft Windows RPC
139/tcp   open  netbios-ssn   Microsoft Windows netbios-ssn
389/tcp   open  ldap          Microsoft Windows Active Directory LDAP (Domain: cascade.local, Site: Default-First-Site-Name)
445/tcp   open  microsoft-ds?
636/tcp   open  tcpwrapped
3268/tcp  open  ldap          Microsoft Windows Active Directory LDAP (Domain: cascade.local, Site: Default-First-Site-Name)
3269/tcp  open  tcpwrapped
5985/tcp  open  http          Microsoft HTTPAPI httpd 2.0 (SSDP/UPnP)
|_http-server-header: Microsoft-HTTPAPI/2.0
|_http-title: Not Found
49154/tcp open  msrpc         Microsoft Windows RPC
49155/tcp open  msrpc         Microsoft Windows RPC
49157/tcp open  ncacn_http    Microsoft Windows RPC over HTTP 1.0
49158/tcp open  msrpc         Microsoft Windows RPC
49165/tcp open  msrpc         Microsoft Windows RPC
Service Info: Host: CASC-DC1; OS: Windows; CPE: cpe:/o:microsoft:windows_server_2008:r2:sp1, cpe:/o:microsoft:windows

Host script results:
|_clock-skew: 2m49s
| smb2-security-mode: 
|   2.02: 
|_    Message signing enabled and required
| smb2-time: 
|   date: 2020-03-31T23:32:53
|_  start_date: 2020-03-31T21:10:59

LDAP Enumeration

Enumerating LDAP we see an interesting attribute cascadeLegacyPwd. The Base64 value decodes to what appears to be a password rY4n5eva.

Commands Utilized:

ldapsearch -h -x -s base namingcontexts
ldapsearch -h -x -b "DC=cascade,DC=local" > ldap-out.txt
ldapsearch -h -x -b "DC=cascade,DC=local" '(objectClass=Person)' > ldap-object-person.txt

SMB Enumeration

Our new friend Ryan can read some interesting an interesting share called Data.

Let’s see what’s inside.

This data looks worthwhile. Let’s mount it to get a closer look at these files.

mount -t cifs -o username=r.thompson // /mnt/smb-data/

Three files really stood out to me. The first is the meeting notes, which make a point to let us know about a TempAdmin account that has the same password as the normal admin account.

This next file is interesting. It shows the ArkSvc user running an application that shows the deletion the TempAdmin account (mentioned in the above “Meeting Notes”) with object location.

The last interesting file, VNC Install.reg, in s.smith’s directory, contained the VNC encrypted password:


Using this tool it was successfully decrypted and appears we have another password:

Continuing my SMB enumeration, s.smith had access to Read the Audit$ share, so I mounted it to get a good look at the files.

I took a quick glance at the Audit.db file, looks like we have a winner.

dnSpy to the Rescue

Transferred over the files application to a Windows machine, utlizing dnSpy I was able to set a breakpoint in the application to decrypt the password of ArkSvc user: w3lc0meFr31nd


User Flag

Satisfied with SMB enumeration of the files, I utilized Evil-WinRM to login with s.smith user and capture the user flag.

Repeated the use of Evil-WinRM to login with ArkSvc user.

Viewing Groups it appears that ArkSvc has a unique group.

Let’s check on that deleted TempAdmin account. Yep! Gone, but not forgotten.

Viewed the properties and noticed our old friend cascadeLegacyPwd.

Primary Commands Utilized:

Get-ADPrincipalGroupMembership -Identity arksvc
Get-ADObject -Identity "CN=TempAdmin\0ADEL:f0cc344d-31e0-4866-bceb-a842791ca059,CN=Deleted Objects,DC=cascade,DC=local" -IncludeDeletedObjects
Get-ADObject -Identity "CN=TempAdmin\0ADEL:f0cc344d-31e0-4866-bceb-a842791ca059,CN=Deleted Objects,DC=cascade,DC=local" -IncludeDeletedObjects -Properties *

Root Flag

The decoded base64 of the cascadeLegacyPwd is baCT3r1aN00dles and immediately worked with the Administrator account to capture the root flag.